Daniel is a teenager when Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem in 605 B.C. He is taken to Babylon and trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He is educated in “the language and literature of the Babylonians” (Daniel 1:4). He is even given a Babylonian name.
Daniel and his friends excel in their training. When the king interviews them, he finds them second to none. So he takes them into his service and grants Daniel a high position in his government.
Daniel is also a prophet. Not only is he intelligent; God makes him able to “understand visions and dreams of all kinds” (Daniel 1:17). He interprets dreams and a strange inscription for the kings of Babylon. God also grants him visions of His kingdom and what must happen before it is established.
As an exile in a foreign land, Daniel’s faith is often tested. He and his friends refuse to eat the royal food and wine, which had surely been offered to idols. His friends are thrown into a blazing furnace for refusing to worship a golden image. He is thrown into a den of lions for refusing to pray to Darius.
In spite of these tests, Daniel remains faithful to God. His career as a politician lasts nearly seventy years. He remains in authority after the Persians conquer Babylon in 539 B.C. and is granted a high position in their government as well.
You can read Daniel’s story in Daniel 1 – 6. You can read his prophecies in Daniel 7 – 12.
Sign of Daniel
Jesus calls Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39). In the same way, Daniel’s experience in the lions’ den (Daniel 6) could be called “the sign of the prophet Daniel.” It gives a detailed preview of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Daniel was due for a promotion because he distinguished himself from the other politicians in Babylon. Because they are jealous, they manipulate the king into a passing a law that would sentence him to death. Jesus also distinguishes Himself from other religious teachers (Matthew 7:28). Because they are jealous, they sentence Him to death on false charges (Matthew 26:59-60).
The king remorsefully orders for Daniel to be thrown into the lions’ den. After he is thrown in, a stone is rolled over the entrance and sealed with the king’s ring. Jesus is also sentenced to death. He refers to those who mock Him while He hangs on the cross as “lions” (Psalm 22:13, 21). After He is buried, a stone with Pilate’s seal is rolled over the entrance to the tomb (Matthew 27:60, 66).
King Darius rushes to the lions’ den the next morning. When Daniel is lifted out alive and unharmed, he issues a decree that all the subjects of his kingdom must worship Daniel’s God. Jesus also rises from the dead (Matthew 28:6), and His resurrection results in God’s praise (Psalm 22:22-24).
In the Lions’ Den
Daniel lived in exile most of his life. His example shows us how to live “as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires,” and to “live…good lives among the pagans” even when they falsely accuse us (1 Peter 2:11-12). His example is especially beneficial for Christians in government.
But it is beneficial for those not in government as well. For whether we realize it or not, all of us are in the lions’ den. 1 John 5:19 says, “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Taken together, these verses teach that the entire world is a lions’ den! It is a dangerous place for Christians; nowhere is safe. We face the same temptations and persecutions as Daniel. His example inspires us to maintain our integrity and remain faithful to God.
New Testament Perspective
Daniel is an Old Testament person but we must see him from a New Testament perspective. His experience in the lions’ den is a preview of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And his faithfulness to God inspires us to remain faithful in our “lions’ den” as well.
How does Daniel’s story encourage you? Share your thoughts with a comment below!
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3 thoughts on ““But Daniel Resolved Not to Defile Himself””
I started a study on the Armor of God today. Your mentioning we live in a world of “lions” just reiterates the importance of us clothing ourselves with the FULL armor of God so we can stand firm against the evils of this world.
Thanks for the great article, Zack! Truly Jesus fulfills completely the Old Testament. Praise to our God and Savior King!
I never realized the “sign of Daniel” foreshadows Christ! Our pastor is doing a sermon series on the book of Daniel so your article piqued my interest. Thanks for posting.